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Essay on Transcendentalism: Critical Analysis of Henry David Thoreau's Essay Called Walden

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What are Transcendentalists? Who were they? What did they stand for? Those are all the questions that you are probably asking, and I will answer them. Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the 1820s-1830s, in the United States. They stood for respect for nature and self-efficiency with elements of Unitarianism, and German Romanticism. They also embraced idealism, and opposing materialism. There are a few people who were transcendentalists, and they wrote about it. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margarent Fuller. There are five different beliefs for transcendentalism, and those are: Contemplating nature can allow you to transcend to the real world, everything is a reflection of God, Individualism and self-reliance are better than following others, A person’s true feelings and intuition are more valuable than book knowledge, and a person’s instincts can lead them to understand God’s spirit. For this essay, I will be talking about Henry David Thoreau, and his essay called Walden. The main theme of this essay is life can be easy and pleasant if your wants are simple. We create many of our own problems by wanting things that we do not actually need. The background of the essay Walden that Thoreau: Thoreau felt the need to confirm his unity with nature. On July 4th, 1845, he started an experiment of “essential” living. Living simply, studying the natural world, and seeking truth within himself. Thoreau built a small cabin by Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. He lived there for more than two yearss, writing and studying nature. Walden is a mixture of philosophy, autobiography, and meditation upon nature. Now, you may be asking, why was this written in the first place? Well, I’ll tell you. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” I think the author’s intent with this quote is that he would rather have someone tell him to truth, rather then having love, money, and fame. He cherishes truth more than anything it feels like, and nothing else would be able to compare to it, like money. For me, I would rather have truth as well, then have money, fame, or love. I hate getting lied to, and I would not want someone lying to me, so I understand where Thoreau is coming from when he says “give me truth.”

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon to be wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone, I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” With this one, I think that Thoreau is saying he likes company, but he would rather be alone. I think what he is saying is that he enjoys being alone rather than being with people, even if their the best of people. He says that nothing more companionable is being alone, so, I’m assuming that he loves to be alone more than anything, and that is probably part of why he decided to go to Walden by himself.

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“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are the richest. The fault-finder finds fault, even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.” In this quote the way the author feels to me is that just because your life may be hard, it can get better. Just because your having a hard time in life. The fault-finders find faults in everything, even good things, even if your life is bad, you should still love it, because even if your house may not be how you want it, you can still experience things that other families will experience.

The lasting impression that Walden has on me is a positive one. I feel the same way that Thoreau feels about how life can be easily and simple, as long as you make it easy and simple. I do believe that we create our own problems, and people always want things that they do not actually need, and honestly I can admit I’ve been that way in my life as well. People should learn to appreciate nature more, because I think that nature is beautiful. If you sit outside long enough, you’ll see how beautiful nature can be, and then you might actually be able to enjoy it.

The way I can translate this into my daily life would be like some of the quotes, for example, the one that was talking about if your life isn’t good, you should still like it. I do not personally like my life, but I have to get used to it because it is the life I live, and I should change it if I would like to change it, but you should like it on the way to changing your life.

The ways that this can alter my behavior is nature. I love nature, and Thoreau opened up my eyes even more to how beautiful, quiet, and peaceful nature can actually be. How precious the animals are, and even how it feels great to be alone, out in the wilderness.

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